Japan, June 2013

Japan: weird, polite to a fault, and bubble gum. I hate to be one of those people who say “you don’t know it until you experience it,” but that’s exactly the case.

Always looking for an excuse to travel, Leah and I hit Tokyo, the Kiso Valley, and Osaka June 14th through 24th. It was Leah’s third time to Japan and my first. Needless to say, everything that was wild to me was no big deal to her.

Our itinerary looked like this (Leah did a great job blogging the first part of the week):

  • Friday: Depart Portland Friday afternoon, arrive Tokyo in the future.
  • Sunday: Explore Tokyo with Seiga and drink iced coffee from vending machines. Skytree was my favorite sight.
  • Monday: Check out the Tsukiji Fish Market, eat a bowl of ramen, then take Shinkansen to Nagoya and Kiso Valley to experience the ryokan.
  • Tuesday: Hike from Tsumago to Magome (16 km or so). More eating.
  • Wednesday: Take Shinkansen to Osaka, where we stayed with Leah’s friend Nathan for the rest of the trip. Indian food for dinner.
  • Thursday: Explore Kyoto. Experience a legit tea ceremony. Make nachos with homemade tortilla chips from homemade tortillas.
  • Friday: Hang out in Osaka part one. Running in the morning along the waterfront. Read in a coffee shop. Wander around all night with a friendly drunk guy.
  • Saturday: Hang out in Osaka part two. Recover from our hangovers. Attempt to buy souvenirs, but fail because neither Leah or I like shopping.
  • Sunday: Explore Nara. Fight deer. Hike to the top of a hill. Shinkansen back to Tokyo, and fly home.

One with jet lag

Jet lag is a killer, but you can fight back.

As a kid, I remember distinctly the effects of jet lag. One trip in particular had me fall asleep on a bench along the Champs-Élysées at four in the afternoon. My family waited for me to wake back up, patiently munching on baguettes. Another had me tour around zombie-like for 42 hours because I simply couldn’t fall asleep.

The same kid who couldn’t sleep on planes for the life of him is now out in a heartbeat. Mitigating jet lag is a combination of: sleep at the right time, plenty of water and small meals, and caffeine, but not too much.

Coming back from Italy last June, I fought jet lag by running around the Coliseum late at night. I was sufficiently tired by my 6 am flight that I slept the entire way home. Given how timezones work, I landed in Portland mid-morning, drank my Earl Grey, worked a few hours, drove to Sunriver, and was convinced to do a half-marathon the next day.

Last week plus change, Leah and I flew to Tokyo. For me, it was the day following a return from New York — I had a total of 11 timezones to deal with. Our flight out was at 8 pm local and arrived 10 pm local. I slept six hours on the plane, spent a couple hours in transit to our hostel, and then slept four more hours. On our first day in Japan, we managed a full day of sightseeing.

Today, I’m back in Portland, rocking to Kyary Kyary Pamyu, and, having been up since 2 am, keeping my fingers crossed that my theory holds.

Once upon a time in Maui

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At the first fundraiser auction I ever go to, one for FACES Foundation last October, I end up with a week’s vacation at condo in Maui. I remember the setup clearly: a strong Pisco Sour to kick off the evening, red wine flowing throughout dinner, and the discomfort coming from being the youngest, and least formally dressed, person in the room. So, when the first item went up on the block, I ended up in a bidding war with the couple sitting beside me. And won.

We got to look forward to the trip for months. Spittle and Leah would be joining us for eight days at the end of March; a good ol’ fashioned, computer-free spring break in between lives of craziness. We had no plans other than plenty of sun, bananagrams, reading, and hanging out.

Considering we managed to hike and snorkel too, I think we were successful. Highlights include:

  • Hiking Haleakala’s crater, particularly the walk out on fog-shrouded cliffs.
  • Winning that one time at bananagrams.
  • Touring every fro-yo shop on the island.
  • Dinner on the last night at Star Noodle. Delicious.

Pro tip: groceries are unreasonably expensive unless you end up at Costco, where they seem to be the same price as stateside.

Ski report: Brighton, February 2013

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Never miss an opportunity for adventure is my motto. When DJ posted on Facebook that he was headed to Utah for a conference and wanted to ski, I immediately jumped on it. We ended up skiing Brighton for a few days with his friends David and Jeffrey.

The most important details:

  • Day one: 15k feet of vertical in 13 runs before lunch.
  • Day two: 22k feet of vertical in 19 runs in the afternoon / early evening. Beer break midway.
  • Day three: 18k feet of vertical in 16 runs before lunch. Hot cocoa midway to defrost.

Secondary details:

  • Brighton Lodge is a pretty sweet basecamp for skiing Brighton. It’s literally right next to the lift. A four person dorm room runs $129/night.
  • Bring groceries and alcohol, as the evening dining options are limited and expensive.
  • Pray for snow. We got sun, but only a couple inches of fresh on Monday night. Had there been a dumping, much more of the mountain would’ve opened up.
  • It was fun thinking I could split skiing and work, but next time we’re instituting a no-laptop policy. I ended up working more hours than I wanted to, and everyone else spent equal hours if not more on their posters.

Best of luck to DJ, Jeffrey and David on their presentations!

Status

Travel this month: VIP meetup in Las Vegas starting today, New Zealand for Webstock at the end of next week, and then a combo Utah for skiing and Kentucky for NICAR at the end of the month. Wish me luck. And if you happen to be in any of those locations, hit me up.

Two highlights of this morning. One, waking up early enough to (mostly) finish painting the bedroom. Two, getting to the airport early enough to get a Velvet Hammer from Coffee People.